O’Malley Peak

Every day when I drive home up O’Malley Road, I look up and see False Peak, with the higher O’Malley Peak hiding behind it. Well, not for this summer, because its been hidden in clouds every day. But in years past I’ve seen it regularly.

O’Malley Peak is a great day hike from Glen Alps, and I’ve hiked and skied on both sides of many times, but never got around to hike it. So when I woke up Sunday morning to unexpected clear(ish) skies, and I had a few hours to spare, I figured it was a good time to give O’Malley a go.

I hiked from Glen Alps up through the Ballfield, took a short detour to look down over Black Lake, then started up the scree gully to get to the ridge. The ridge had some fog on it, so when I got to the top, it took me a few minutes to figure out that I couldn’t go any higher.
Looking east on the ridge from O\'Malley Peak
Looking east on the ridge from O\’Malley Peak

Yes, that is fresh snow (and some hail) in the photo above. Is it still called ‘Termination Dust’ if its been falling all summer? Is there really a summer to terminate? I digress. My goal was to continue back along the ridge to Hidden Peak. I stayed just below the ridgeline on the south side, since the north side drops vertically for a couple thousand feet. It was good traveling (at least by Chugach ridgeline standards), until I reached the point where I started ascending to Hidden Peak. There was some fog, and I couldn’t see a safe route to the top. I traversed around at about the 4500 contour line, hoping to find a gully to take me up. But I kept getting pushed downward by small cliffs, and eventually I had gone by the peak without seeing a good route up. By then I was running out of time, so I decided to head straight down the scree and snow to Hidden Lake, then run the trail back to Glen Alps. The trip took three and a half hours of hiking and jogging.

Hidden Lake and the scree field I descended below Hidden Peak.
Hidden Lake and the scree field I descended below Hidden Peak.

O’Malley ridgeline, viewed from the south. Click for panorama

Chugach State Park is so close to home that I often take it for granted and forget what a spectacular playground it can be. This was a great hike. Many people travel thousands of miles to hike through rugged Alaskan scenery like this. And I was home in time for lunch.




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